I think that’s about what sums up life, at least my life now.

A square:

We all know they have 4 right angled corners. You travel down one side, you immediately turn, travel again, turn, and so on. It’s a very rigid and orderly shape.

I’d say that was my life earlier on. I married young. We had a plan. That plan ended. Probably because our plan was so rigid and goal-oriented. Not that we aspired to great job positions or wealth, it was just a plan. We had hit corner after corner. We didn’t know how to compromise. There were only right angles, nothing was obtuse.

Then we divorced.

A triangle:

It has three angles of varying degrees based on the length of its side. It’s a little less predictable. A triangle can come in many different dimensions.

During my divorce, I had to learn who I was. So, while I didn’t have 90 degree angles anymore, I was learning about me and how much I could bend. After all, I pretty much went form my parents home to my married home and now to a single mom divorced home with three children. Whew! Glad I got all that out.

It’s a good thing that triangles have varying degrees. This is when I searched to be myself and not compromise my relationship or responsibility with my kids. Although the divorce gave them some tumultuous years.

So, as the lengths in my triangle grew and shrunk, and the angles changed, it did help me become less uptight. That’s the great thing about triangles… they can never go wrong. No matter what the degree of their angles. As long as there are three, it’s still a triangle that allows some flexibility just when you need it. Discover how much you want to look at things and live with another angle in life.

And then I met and married Steve. He had his standards… his right angles and obtuse angles, but we made our angles work together through thick and thin. Good times, bad times, travel times, great times, party times, kids times, sad times, happy times… but it was ultimately our time.

A Circle:

As we all know, a circle has no angles. It’s a continuum. It goes round and round and… well, you get the picture.

I think… therefore, it’s true, I am now officially a circle. I’ve done all the hard things… raised three children, helped one through college, another one through the Navy. I’m still a roommate with our special needs daughter. I’ve lost all parents on both sides, and lost two brothers. And I lost Steve.

But if a circle is a continuum, did I really lose them?

I’ve been reading a book by my favorite author, Mitch Albom, The Stranger in the Lifeboat.

And if you turn to page 241, this is what is printed:

When someone passes, Benjamin, people always ask , ‘Why did God take them?’ A better question would be ‘Why did God give them to us?’ What did we do to deserve their love, their joy, the sweet moments we shared? Didn’t you have such moments with Annabelle?

These moments are a gift . But their end is not a punishment. I am never cruel, Benjamin. I know you before you are born. I know you after you die. My plans for you are not defined by this world.

Beginnings and endings are earthly ideas. I go on . And because I go on, you go on with me. Feeling loss is part of why you are on Earth. Through it, you appreciate the brief gift of human existence, and you learn to cherish the world I created for you. But the human form is not permanent. It was never meant to be. That gift belongs to the soul.

Mitch Albom, THe Strange in the Lifeboat

So, why did our daughter buy me this particular Mitch Albom book when I still have a few others to read? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Why do I find so much truth in this? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Why do I believe that God gives us people in our lives to serve a purpose? Squares, triangles, circles… 🤷🏻‍♀️

I believe He gives us all the angles and people we need at the that time in our lives to choose our paths, learn from or correct that path, change it, bend those angles, until we get to that time where we are in total acceptance of him and the choices we made.

Then we are a ⭕️ circle. I have come full circle. We know I can’t bring Steve back in a physical sense, but his spirit will never leave, our times and our memories will always be ours. It truly is a circle of life, I just wish I knew this earlier in life so I wouldn’t have spent so many years of worry and anxiety over what would be so endearing and enjoyable and enlightening in my later years.

So, a few last words…

I hope Mitch Albom doesn’t come after me because I give him full credit. But I’d love to meet him… call 📞me!

I believe God sends people into our lives for a purpose, to teach or show us something… love, tolerance, patience, or because we have a strength to handle or a weakness we need to strengthen, or a battle of our own demons that we can turn around to help others.

But, the geometry is up to us… again… God gives us choices…

Are you a square… a triangle… a circle…? ❤️

C’mon Get Happy

Every now and then, I’ll hear my daughter sing these obscure songs from the past, TV shows we haven’t watched in decades, if ever. All of a sudden, she’s singing away.

Her latest was from the Partridge Family, “C’mon Get Happy.” I pulled it up on YouTube and for quite a few moments, we were getting happy… giggly happy.

And don’t we all wish, that just for those cherished and precious moments, we can all be happy and giggly without anyone thinking we were being juvenile or childish in our reactions? We should all hope to be childlike to keep our quest for life and be inquisitive to keep us going.

Well, in early January, I did a thing! And in case you didn’t read my previous post, I wrote about my resolutions, that I broke the bank and got a new car. Among other things, am I happy?

I’m so proud, not sure that I’m truly happy yet. Here’s the deal… I took the leap! New year! Caution to the wind!

So I should be happy, right? I wake up every day, my health is good, I take care of my daughter. I’m retired. I have a sweet new ride. My life is still the same almost everyday, except that Steve’s not here.

I’m keeping up with the house, the yard, the bills. I keep chugging along but even though I might seem happy, I’m still only trying to be happy. All the changes I’ve made around the house, it’s basically busy work. It keeps me occupied and focused on other things. Otherwise, I would always be sad.

There will be moments when I’m doing something , then I’ll just break down and cry because I miss him so much.

But, as I continue with my conversations with Steve and bring them to fruition, I am happy… for fulfilling our goals and dreams. I’m not going off the deep end and trying to be someone I’m not. This was in our plans. I know plans change. I’m realistic. After all, my plans were to have Steve here with me into at the very least, my 70’s, his 80’s. But that changed.

But, I’m happy with my decisions. I don’t know that I’ll ever be Partridge Family “C’mon Get Happy,” but I’m going to keep trying! 🎶

You all know you are going to google that song now! 🎶

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

I’m not sure if this is the right title, but this is how I feel.

I know I’ve talked about friends that Steve and I have had in the past.

You really find out who your real friends are when one of the two of you have passed. Most, if not all, have been by my side. They’re offering me advice when asked. They’ve come over to help fix things I can’t. And we all know there are those that say if you need anything, to talk or help, let me know. But then there are those fair weather friends.

You spent many nights cooking out together, drinking by the fire, discussing every day issues and family things. Then all of a sudden… they are only there for you when it’s convenient for them.

I’ve talked about this one person in particular, I’ll call her the “Cork Lady.” As a refresher, she was a friend who told me less than two weeks after Steve passed that she had put a cork under his arm from our favorite vineyard to be cremated with him. She didn’t ask… she hid it… it was very personal to me and I was upset. She didn’t ask. So it went with him, without my knowledge.

Her husband, who was our car mechanic for years, couldn’t offer advice as to what needs stabilizer in the winter as far as yard gas appliances go. For years, this same guy, rode our tail and said we should get rid of our Subaru… it came up in almost every conversation.

So, I finally did it. After almost 20 years of the same Subaru with 369k miles on the engine… I took the dive! I was going for 525k because that was the record at my mechanic’s shop. But Sally Subaru was going to need a timing belt, body work by the gas tank, a new windshield, and 3 codes were showing up on the emission. She still ran great, AC worked, heated seats worked. I loved her so dearly. My heart was broken again…

So, hello 2023! I got another emotional purchase. I was hoping to put it off until April, but it seems my research yielded very few Subaru WRX CVT … so this car was calling me.

I know it’s not a buyer’s market. But it was what Steve and I had discussed since our former neighbor had one a few years ago. We were always committed to the brand. We all have our favorite cars. But, knowing how long Sally lasted me, I’m hopeful this will be my last car purchase. If, in 18 years, this will still be on the road, I’ll be 81! I might not even be driving then 🤷‍♀️

But, back to Cork Lady.

So, I posted my achievement on Facebook, she didn’t respond. Okay, not everyone checks it every day. Just last week, Cork Lady and I shared a bottle of wine and exchanged neighborly gifts like we had done for years.

So, today, I stopped over into their cul de sac to show her my new purchase… and she was very blasé about it. I don’t get it.

I’m not off my rocker, not on the deep edge and doing stupid stuff since Steve passed away. I’m so frugal, I use the water from my dehumidifier to water my plants, I hang my laundry around our bar stools so I don’t have to use the electric dryer. My thermostat is set at 62 so I heat the house with wood because oil is expensive now… I guess I just expected her to be more happy for me. I guess my loss is no longer her concern.

As I promised myself, I’m going to keep taking the high road. Because I still hear Steve telling me “let it go honey.” And I will. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that my timing was off, she had other things going on that she was preoccupied with. I sent her a text asking her if she was okay today, that she seemed not like herself. I’ll await her response. You never really know what someone else is going through that could alter their state of mind and affect their behavior towards you.

I’m willing to understand her struggles whatever they are. But her indifference to a friend, it’s not acceptable.

There may be some changes no my horizons…

I still need to be around those who don’t dwell on my situation, but are understanding and supportive and happy for me, as friends should be… through thick and thin. So I’m finding out… some of my BEST friends will make me stronger.

And Another Year

Another year has passed us by. I hope all our years are good – great would be even better, but if you are reading this, chances are you’re dealing with a loss, a significant loss.

I keep pushing forward as most of us will. Why? Because it’s not my time yet. I believe we all have a time of expiration like food products. Nothing lasts forever. Some of us might make our choice on when to go but then isn’t that also our predetermined expiration date? I don’t know.

I’ve started following Julie, aka “spilledmilkmomma” on Instagram. She lost her husband just 4 weeks after giving birth to their second child. My oh my, when I think about how my loss is compared to hers… comparing our experiences to others is something we all tend to do, but truthfully no one’s loss is greater than any others. I believe it’s the strength we are given to deal with that loss, it gets us through day by day.

It’s been a year and 8 months since Steve passed away.

Things that I am working to change are:

  • I can no longer say in a conversation that he passed away last year, because that was 2021 and now it’s 2023. It’s hard to adjust to the time that’s gone by.
  • I can no longer procrastinate around the house. After all, if I don’t complete a task on one day, there is no one to help me out as the workload around the house begins to mount and then I’ll be overwhelmed and just give up.
  • I vow to eat lunch out at least one time by myself in 2023. Who doesn’t like a great lunch served to them? It’s the hurdle of getting over being by myself that’s the challenge. But I can do it, it’s only lunch… right?
  • I need to realize that with inflation, I will also have to curb my spending. And that means cutting back on traveling, getaways that might be needed to remove me from my reality. It means that Steve’s deer will only be fed every other day instead of daily since the price of corn has doubled since he started feeding them and I’ve carried it on.
  • But, it also means I will not give up on being that person at the farmers market that pays it forward for just $20 a week. That produce could be much needed by a family and I’m sure it’s just a partial on their bill.
  • I will keep on trying to be kind and when my temper gets the best of me, I won’t instantaneously react. I’ll give it time and realize that I’m glad I did because otherwise, that would have made me a rotten tomato. And I believe in karma.

So, there you have it. Not many new resolutions, just improving on me.

I’ll always be a mom.

I’ll always be Steve’s wife.

I’ll always be a sister, friend, cousin, neighbor. But these hats that I wear are those that I will keep trying to improve upon.

So… happy new resolutions to me… and to you!

May you be better, mentally, physically and emotionally in 2023! ☮️

The Search is Over

Previously, I had talked about finding a “bestie.” You know, just a really close friend, someone who jived with me, to travel with, or go out to eat with, so I don’t have to do it alone. And somehow I thought if a had a good friend, that would make my life better. I’m in closer contact with my first cousins and maybe I need to give it a lot more time.

I recently returned from “our” go-to place, the winery in North Carolina. It’s our special place, we could tell our family we were going to the winery and they all knew just where it was. We had my 50th birthday party there, Steve’s 60th birthday there, so we hoped everyone that was able to attend could see how special that place was to us.

Well, I’ve taken a sister there with me for company so I didn’t have to go it alone. She turned out to be a “Debbie downer.” She couldn’t understand how or why we (Steve and I), could just drink wine and sit at the winery and chill in the North Carolina breeze, with the sun warming our faces. Sometimes, we, Steve and I, hardly talked, but the heart felt it all.

I’ve gone twice by myself since then.

One time, I traveled there by myself, but I connected with some friends who live nearby for a winemakers dinner, which Steve and I were never able to attend because of my work. One of those friends had lost her husband suddenly, 5 months after Steve’s passing, and I was amazed by her strength. And now, she has two boys, 12 and 10 years old to raise. But she’s a spectacular and positive person, so she hides her grief well.

The other time I went totally by myself was a full blown disaster. Weather delays caused me to reschedule my flight… into another airport, I had no rental car available then, had to Lyft at 2 in the morning. Thankfully, we had so many friends that we knew through the years, they took me if I needed anything, to an ATM machine, to get snacks for my hotel room, they even joined me for lunch so I didn’t have to eat alone. And I never asked them… they just wanted to do it.

Well, this brings me to my conclusion – I just got back from a trip to that same winery with another friend. She’s divorced, and doesn’t travel a lot. I’ve known her for many years but I’ve never really known her well until this trip. She is my sister’s best friend, but she was around us so much at family gatherings and through fun and hard times… I thought… why not ask her to go with me!? While she was a great person to travel with – she wasn’t demanding, we had fun, we laughed – by day 4 of 6, I kept thinking… and I’d tell myself I’m just grateful for her company, I hope she’s enjoying this getaway, and… I’ll probably not ever ask her to go with me again!

The truth is, looking at all of the experiences I’ve had since Steve is gone, the trips I took by myself, even the disaster trip, were still the best ones.

I don’t want to invite anyone with me who I feel like I have to entertain and see that they have a good time because they’ve never been there. We always had a great time… slowing down… drinking… eating…. Just chilling. And I want to keep going there and doing the same thing… at my pace… not as a tour guide unless the mood hits me.

So, that’s why I’ve decided…. The search is over… I’m just going to accept it as it is and no longer seek that person who I thought I knew enough to travel with, call up for dinner… maybe and I’m pretty sure I need more time for this to happen but as a human, you will always look to fill a void to find happiness. I wake up every day and choose to be happy. So, I’m moving on. I’ll stick to what I know that I get joy out of and let the pieces fall where they may.

The search is over… May it come to me.

Here’s the Thing…

I am trying my best to be socially active. And by that I mean, when one of my friends or cousins ask me out to dinner or anything, I’ll say yes. It gets me out and I get to have a conversation with someone.

Both of which I lack right now.

Someone inevitably asks, “How are you doing?” And they may mean it or it just might be a courtesy.

If I tell them I’m fine and I’m doing good, do they interpret that as me saying I’m ready to move on with my life?

Well, my life still has to go forward until it’s my turn. But then I sometimes think that if I say I’m good, they might think I’ve gotten over Steve… his life… his death. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get over that.

I do think it’s true, with the passage of time, you never stop mourning or grieving your loss, but you learn to live your life around it.

I try to hide it well. I try to only cry at night or in the car or when I’m working in the yard… places where no one actually sees me.

But the other side of the coin is, if I say I’m a mess, then they might think I’m unstable or a hot mess, and I have issues. Nobody wants a friend with issues or drama. I can’t guarantee that.

The thing is… since I don’t have Steve to chatter with everyday, when I get to talk to someone, I’m sure my mouth flaps like a duck’s ass. And who wants that? A one-sided conversation. And no one absolutely needs me to talk to them about my loss, how I really feel, because it all involves death… doom and gloom. That conversation gets old and depressing.

It’s been 1 year and 6 months since Steve died. To me, it’s unfathomable how time has passed. But they don’t realize it, because their life has carried on with the loss of Steve.

So, the thing is… if you invite me out, you might have to listen to me talking a lot. And if I reference Steve or you ask me how I am… be prepared…. For many reasons… even though my talking about Steve’s death could make you wish you never started to talk to me, remember, it may be because I’ve have no one to really talk to since he died. I’ve had “pockets” of conversation. And that’s the thing… No one to continue to talk to about Steve on a daily/frequent basis. But, for my friends who have not lost a spouse or significant other, and to keep others talking to me, I try not to depress them, in order to help me. Because everything about Steve’s death is depressing, and no one wants to hear that… I feel most situations at home when I don’t have to talk to anyone! Not on a dime… I’ll wait for a text response… I’ll wait for a message response… I’ll even wait for a phone call.

And that’s the thing… ☮️

Sometimes I Feel…

…that my life was cut short, when Steve passed away.

He was my partner in crime. We had so many plans for our future.

We loved to travel, sit on the front porch when it rained. And, in the past, we had bundled up on several occasions where there was as either a meteor shower or comet passing by at 2 in the morning!

Now, I have no partner physically by my side. I haven’t gone off the deep end in my daily life. Maybe, that’s what’s expected of me. I don’t know. I’ve never lost my husband before so there’s no comparison. So I would also hope that no one is judging me.

I’m still cooking and grocery shopping. I still have to eat and feed our daughter. I’m always inviting someone over… so I have a purpose to cook and don’t have to eat alone.

But, don’t let this fool you or anyone that I still don’t cry every day at least once… if not more.

There will always be those days and times, those little snippets, where I cry and let loose on what I’m doing. I’ll hit that low point… I’ll pull up my britches and realize I still have work here to be done.

Case in point, we… I… heat the house with oil. The backup was a wood stove. Well, due to global issues making the price of oil skyrocket, the wood stove is now my primary source of heat during the winter. For the last two weeks, as I struggled to haul split wood up the hill in our yard, I broke down and cried. How can I do this? How can I keep doing this? By myself without Steve? I cursed at him, thinking why would he leave me with this hard work.

Well, as I carried on, my thoughts came into perspective.

  1. Steve has nothing to do with today’s global issues.
  2. I’m grateful we have a wood stove to heat the house as opposed to using oil. Many people don’t have that option.
  3. Steve taught me well on how to stack wood and bank the stove up for the night. I learned by watching him.
  4. I’m so frugal because of today’s economy, and the times Steve and I grew up in… we never wasted food and I still don’t. Funny story, Steve took a sandwich to work one day, and a coworker said, “You know there’s mold on your bread, right?” Steve promptly removed it… and then finished his sandwich. That’s why I loved this guy.

But, my life was so full with Steve and the kids. I’m trying to look back on our adventures and the multitude of great times we had.

We often forget how great our past was and only think of how great our future was going to be. For sure, this is true.

But if I reflect on my life with Steve, and how I wished I had more with him, we lived a great physical life here… together… with our kids… adventures… memories.

Now, I just have to keep living. I’m not doing anything crazy… I’m just moving forward being me. And Steve will always be beside me sharing my experience.

So, while my life was cut short with Steve, it’s just a new journey with Steve by my side but in a different way.

☮️ and ❤️

Another Day

I’m going back to Monday, 8/8/2022. It started out as just another day.

It’s back to work at jobs we may or may not like. We start out our weekly routine. Back in the day, my aunt would have her cleaning schedule. Mondays would be laundry. Tuesday would be dusting. Wednesday would be bathroom cleaning and so on and so on.

It was a routine. I know I talked about this before, but I still struggle with my new routine.

Every day is just another day for me. What I don’t get done or feel like doing, I can always do it tomorrow. And, by chance, if tomorrow never comes for me (and some day it won’t), oh well! Will anyone realize that I didn’t vacuum or dust? Well, maybe they’ll notice the dust, because I hate it.

But on this particular day I had to write a check to pay a bill… and then it hit me. August 8 was our wedding anniversary. We would have been married 23 years, but together as a couple for 28 years. This is the second anniversary without him. I specifically chose this date (8/8/99), so he would remember… but he never did. He was just bad with dates. While these are just numbers and dates, the day is still important to me.

I might look through our wedding album and chuckle at how dark Steve’s hair was, or how skinny I was. And then I’ll look at the photos of the people there, and reminisce about that day, who was there, who is gone and cry – hopefully good tears. It was a great day. We were surrounded by those we loved the most, in our back yard, underneath a garden trellis. I wore pink, Steve wore dark green trousers. We were married on a Sunday and on Monday, we left for our honeymoon in Bermuda.

These days… they all have a number assigned to them, but it’s most important to remember the day… And smile 😊

The Search is On

I had this conversation with Steve in my thoughts.

I always was in some form or another in retail management, so personal relationships were frowned upon, and the hours that I worked were long and unpredictable, especially during the holidays. So, I never had a “bestie,” a gal pal, or anything of that nature.

Steve was my bestie. We knew what to expect of each other, how we would react and respond to any situation.

We both had friends, mostly Steve, that we would go out with and have some great times. Steve’s best friend was Brad, not to be confused with Steve’s son. Brad was such an integral part of our lives. I called him our son, he called Steve Pappy. He is one hell of of great friend! We could count on each other, Brad would fall asleep by our bonfire… just checking to make sure it was safe… 😉

Brad suffered a stroke in his early 40’s. And while he could no longer work side by side with Steve, life’s sneaky snake has its twists!

When Steve was going through his treatments in 2020, some restaurants were starting to re-open, and we set aside Tuesdays for “Pappy ‘n Brad” night. It was great to see the two of them carrying on like they were 20 years ago or so.

I’m not sure either of them knew that they may never pass this way again, but I knew this was Steve’s best friend for life and it felt good.

So, what I’ve come to realize, is that I’m now searching for a bestie. Maybe I’m trying too hard because I’m lonely. My bestie is gone. Our kids have been very supportive and understanding. I love them for all that.

Maybe I just need more time. Maybe I’m trying too hard to fill that “bestie” void.

After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Easing My Way

So, as my life has been learning to deal with the loss of Steve, in every aspect… daily mundane conversations, weekly plans, what are we having for dinner… blah blah blah. Since all our kids have flown the coop, and Steve isn’t here, it’s all totally on my plate to deal with my special needs daughter who is 37 years old .

And I’m good with that.

Steve never was selfish enough to ask me to put her in a group home so we could have more freedom and less challenges than other couples who were in our age bracket but not in our situation. Maybe there was a divine plan in action so that I would truly never be alone.

After Steve passed, I decided to get my affairs in order and finally apply to be her legal guardian. Great under the law but more paperwork for me.

So I approached her dad about this and he immediately signed off. “I can’t take her.” And that was his personal decision. I wasn’t asking him to.

And all that I can say is no one knows her better than her sister or me.

She’s not a handful, at least to me. But if someone new was thrown into her life, not having any experience in being a caretaker of someone with special needs, it could be a challenge. If you’ve ever had a two or three year old, in some respects, that’s what I deal with. But her cognitive levels are all over the charts. She’s smart, sometimes sneaky. She has echolalia, which means she pretty much just repeats or “parrots” what she hears, so sometimes it can be difficult to understand her needs and wants. But as long as she’s in her routine, she’s good – she’s always a pleasure.

I’m starting to take her out into the community more. In the past, she went to a day program so Steve and I had our breaks. But I also worked full time even after Steve had retired. So, he dealt with most of her care to make my life “easier.” He would cook her meals, give her baths, and tuck her into bed if I had to work nights. He’d get her dressed, give her breakfast, and send her off on the bus to her day care if I had to work mornings. There aren’t a lot of people who would embrace this situation, but Steve did. My kids were his kids.

Now that he’s gone, she’s my go-to for some outings. So far, they have been successful. You have to understand, she likes and needs her creature comforts. Don’t we all? I just have to be prepared knowing that my plan may not work out. So far, now that I’m easing my way out into the world again, we’ve been to Niagara Falls and to a local hamburger festival. Both were wins!

I’m contemplating a short beach trip next year and probably another festival locally.

You have to understand the beauty in this – as I get accustomed to my new life, I thought we could journey together. She’s my new partner in crime.

Easing, easing back into a life… outside my house… outside my comfort zone… outside not having Steve with me. I know he’s here and is still taking care of me. He’s helping me ease back out into the world.